As beatmakers and producers, we accumulate a massive amount of plugins, which often are very good at one specific thing. We build our own effects chains and discuss their merits endlessly on forums and social media. Especially when it comes to drums, it’s not easy to get that industry sound without a lot of trial and error.
Ableton 10 introduced their Drum Buss device this year, which has been a god send in my books. It really makes it easy to make drums gritty, punchy or boomy with a few simple controls. It’s one of my go-to devices for shaping my drum sound. A couple weeks ago I came across Beatformer, a similar positioned plugin in VST/AU form by the developer Accusonos, who already were on my radar after I tested their previous product Regroover Pro.
Let’s have a look what you can do with it, how it might improve your workflow and how it stacks up against my current go-to tool, which is Ableton’s Drum Buss.
Beatformer lets you quickly shape your drum tracks with four big knobs designed to tailor the all important characteristics of drum sounds. There’s a few more interesting settings like the the M/S processor, but the big knobs are really all you need to focus on for now. Boom, Punch, Squash and Air.
PUNCH helps your drums cut through the mix by shaping the transients. Bring them to the forefront & smack people in the face or if dialed into negative values, have the drums play a secondary role and duck into background. I find that Punch works excellent for snare and percussion sounds. It really brings out the mid frequencies and lets them cut through the mix with ease.
AIR controls the brightness and high-frequency dynamics to empasize the highs. You can either excite the hats and snare topss if they aren’t sizzling enough – or tame the high end by dampening the sound through suppressing the high frequencies. Perfect for lo-fi beats.
SQUASH adds character and punctuation to give you a crunchy overall feel. It reduces the dynamic range like a compressor. Obviously negative values on the dial will give you the opposite effect – in that case Squash acts more like an expander.
BOOM sculpts the perfect bass sound. It dynamically adds extra harmonics to your lower frequencies to beef up your kick or bass line. Similar to what plugins like Waves RBass are doing. Similiar to Ableton’s Drum Buss, the Boom control lets you choose the key that your kick or 808 is in. You can – it’s the perfect tool to add a whole lot of thud to your kicks!
In general Beatmasher is a great to tool to make your drums sound fuller and fill out the frequency spectrum better. You can use it on individual drum tracks and tweak the sound to your liking. It’s great for emphasizing your kick drum, transient shaping your snare, etc.
For me it especially shines on your drum buss track. If you make adjustments across your drums as a group, the end result sounds like they are being treated as one instrument – which they are. It really transforms the sound of your drum mix and glues it together.
When it comes to using Beatformer on 808s, start by loading up the Legato Pro or Subgressor preset. You get really fine grain control over the sound and you can really shape an already good 808 into one that perfectly sits in your mix.
There’s a lot you can do with Beatformer and the difference with the plugin in your mix is quite startingly. You really move your drums up a few levels in terms of professional sound. I will definitely keep this one in my toolbox and put it to good use.